Anarchist News

No 22 March 2000

Freedom for Mumia Abu Jamal

Why is Mumia on death row?

On December 9th, 1981, Abu-Jamal was driving a taxi when he saw that police had stopped his brother. He got out of the car to see what was happening.

In an altercation that followed, Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was shot and killed. Witnesses saw a man flee the scene who did not look like Abu-Jamal. But when police arrived, they arrested Mumia Abu-Jamal, who had also been shot.

Ballistics reports prove that the gun found on Mumia Abu-Jamal, a .38 calibre weapon, was not the gun that killed Officer Faulkner. He had been shot with a .44.

Eyewitnesses who were not called to testify in 1982 have come forward. They say Mumia Abu-Jamal was not the shooter. Eyewitness Veronica Jones says police threatened to jail her if she testified. Other witnesses, who testified against Abu-Jamal in the original trial, have changed their stories, saying police threatened and intimidated them.

What sort of trial?

Judge Albert Sabo presided over Abu-Jamal's trial in 1982. Judge Sabo has sent more people to death row than any other judge in the United States, most of them Black and Latino. There is a higher proportion of Black people on death row from Philadelphia than from any other city.

Judge Sabo is a member of the Fraternal Order of Police and was openly hostile to the defence. He prevented Abu-Jamal's court-appointed attorney from getting the money necessary to investigate and prepare a defence. Sabo also refused to let Abu-Jamal represent himself.

The prosecution used what have since been ruled illegal means to keep Black people off the jury. Only two Black jurors served on this case, in a city that is 40 percent Black.

The prosecution's case centred on condemning Abu-Jamal for having been a member of the Black Panther Party, which they falsely portrayed as a hate group.


Please take a minute to email the US embassy in Dublin letting them know that the eyes of the world are watching their efforts to railroad Jamal to a state murder. The email address is


Workers' action for Mumia

Last year's protests in support of Jamal included public school teachers in California putting off regular lessons on January 14th and 15th to hold classroom discussions about the case. This was organised through their union, the Oakland Education Association.

Three months later, in a magnificent display of solidarity, the ILWU dockers' union shut down all the west coast ports for a day to demand: Stop the Execution, and Free Mumia.

Organisations and personalities around the world have taken up the case. These range from Chumbawamba to Whoopi Goldberg, from Nelson Mandela to Salman Rushdie, from the International Organisation of Journalists to the Mexican Zapatistas, from the Congress of South African Trade Unions to the Bakers Union in Britain.

Among those in Ireland who have expressed their support are the National Union of Journalists, the Graphical Media & Paper Union, Michael O'Reilly, Regional Secretary of the ATGWU, Christy Moore and Mick Lally.

In Ireland a loose grouping of anarchists and socialists, the Justice for Abu-Jamal Campaign, organised several protests outside the US embassy, speak-outs at the Central Bank plaza, and coverage about the case in daily papers, RTE and local radio.

Hopefully today's event will not be a one-day wonder. Will the Socialist Workers Party will keep their 'Mumia Must Live' campaign alive and organise events to tie in with further international days of action until we win justice for Jamal?


The black 9% of the population of Pennsylvania gives birth to 56% of the population on death row

In the 1992 ruling on the Dawson case the US supreme Court overturned a death sentence because the prosecution cited the defendant's association with the fascist Aryan Brotherhood, but Jamal was not allowed to appeal on the same grounds (the use of his teenage membership of the Black Panther Party)


Who is Mumia?

Mumia Abu-Jamal joined the Black Panther Party in 1967, at the age of 15. He went on to a distinguished career as a radio journalist. An untiring opponent of racism and police brutality, he earned the wrath of the notoriously racist Mayor Rizzo and the Philadelphia police department.

At the time of his arrest, Abu-Jamal was president of the Association of Black Journalists in Philadelphia. Because of his advocacy for Philadelphia's Black community, he was known as the "Voice of the Voiceless".

Mumia Abu-Jamal has always maintained his innocence. His lawyers and supporters say Abu-Jamal was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because he had earned the enmity of the Philadelphia police for his political stance, Abu-Jamal made a convenient target for a frame-up.


Future Actions:

If you have email and want to keep track of Mumia's case and future actions in Ireland then email



United States of Captivity

In the United States in February the US Prison system incarcerated it's 2 millionth prisoner. This means that the prison population of the USA accounts for 25% of the entire prison population of the world.

This figure is even more startling when you discover that the US only accounts for 5% of the global population. The next time you hear someone sing the Star Spangle Banner you should remember that fact and consider that "land of the free and the home of the brave" is in truth neither.


Thank you from Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia sent the following letter from Death row to all his supporters internationally.

How do you say 'thank you' to thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of people, who you don't know?

How do you communicate such thanks to these many people, some, indeed most, who you have never seen? There comes a time - like this one, where one has to admit - I don't know how to do so; I just hope this will do for some.

From my clan of blood and spirit, I send my thanks far and wide -on the winds, like a winged prayer of Love. Thanks to you, the forces of resistance are no longer silent; we are a leading chorus in the Song of Life. Your call echoes across continents, The call 'Sabo must go' resonates like summer thunder from coast to coast.

Thanks to you, radicals, lawyers, academics, everyday folks, we are growing. Who knew that such a deep and wide anti-death penalty presence lay silent?

Groups like the Bruderhof (who I playfully call 'The Blue People') pepper our movement with their peaceful presence; reserved yet committed foes of the Death Lust that stalks America.

My thanks to you all - we are growing! We shall win!

Ona Move! Long Live John Africa!


We want justice, not laws!

While we have been active in supporting Mumia Abu-Jamal's campaign for a retrial, we have no faith in the neutrality of the criminal justice system. We know that the stay of execution was granted, not because of the arguments of lawyers, but because the demonstrations of anger around the world had shown the American state that this was one case which couldn't just be swept under the carpet. As a black activist in America, Mumia was railroaded through his first trial, and would have been executed had it not been for the attention his case received.

The myth of the law's blindness can be seen to be a lie all around the world. In every country you visit, you will find that minorities and the poor make up the bulk of the prison population, and that they are treated more harshly than more 'privileged' people who commit the same crimes. The criminal injustice system is just one example of the way that capitalism maintains and extends the boundaries between those who have and those who have not, those who rule and those who are ruled.


The freedom we seek, the freedom we demand, is not just freedom from the self-serving laws of the state, it is freedom from poverty, from unemployment, the freedom to live our own lives without always having to worry about money. These freedoms are at the very heart of revolutionary change and socialism. And real socialism - anarchism - is even more than that.

It is a time of real freedom. It is a time when the shackles of the old oppressive order are thrown off and the workers movement explodes into a recreativity as it copes with organising every facet of society so that the needs of all are met. Everyone can get involved, through their assemblies and delegate councils, in decision making and planning that used to be the sole concern of central government. Freedom of ideas, criticism and input will not only be a practical reality but a necessity.

Capitalist society is organised in a top-down way. Orders come from the top and those at the bottom obey them. The institutions by which the bosses rule, the Government and the State, are built so that the rule of a minority over the majority is possible. Control of political freedom, ideas and information is fundamental to their working. Participation is strictly limited so that most people never have any say.


That is why we wish to abolish these structures. They can never be used to create socialism but instead will actively sabotage the workers' cause. The "workers states" advocated by the Leninists for the transition to socialism have proven to be its greatest enemy. Only workers' councils can form the basis of the new society.

We stand uncompromisingly for a new world. One which will be owned and managed by all those who work. It will be organised from the bottom up and production will be to meet peoples' needs, not for the private profit of a few. Anarchist society will make real the old call "from each according to ability, to each according to need". Every individual will enjoy complete control of her/his life with no limit on their freedom as long as they do not encroach on the freedom of anyone else. Now, isn't that something worth struggling for?


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